Ibu Y

ibu-yuyun

An actual house

I first met Ibu Y four years ago, when she was living under canvas beside a railway line in Jakarta with her husband and this cat.

Since then, she’s moved house twice, once to a plywood room next to a flood canal, and more recently to another plywood partition inside an actual house nearby. An actual house.

To me, this looked like the progress I’d been hoping for on her behalf. She still has no bathroom or cooking facilities, but her new place is rainproof, more secure, and easier to keep clean than the mud-and-litter surroundings of her old shelter by the railway. It’s relatively free from the smoke of burning plastic.

It seems so clear that this is a better place to live, a step forward and upwards on the long climb to what I think of as a better life. But as we were chatting, she told me how she felt: her new place was okay, but really Ibu Y longs for those days – only a year or so ago – when she lived under canvas by the side of those tracks.

“Friends could come any time, we could get together and do what we wanted. And if someone needed a place to sleep for the night, they could stay as long as they wanted. There was family feeling with our neighbours, we looked out for each other but had our own patches and didn’t interfere in each other’s lives.”

Now that she and her husband live in a legal neighbourhood, it’s harder for Ibu Y’s friends to come and go. They have to report overnight guests, and neighbours complain to the local leader if there are too many visitors.

“Here, they tell us to send people away, to keep quiet, and to tidy up. By the railway, it was ‘You, you; me, me.’ We were free. And when the train company cleared our houses, we flew away – like birds.”

Rumah sejati

Saya bertemu dengan Ibu Y empat tahun yang lalu. Pada saat itu dia tinggal di bawah terpal bersama suami dan kucingnya. Rumahnya sebuah gubuk di pinggiran rel kereta api di Jakarta.

Sejak saat itu dia sudah pindah dua kali, yang pertama kali ke “apartemen tripleks” (bukan duplex) di tanggul kali banjir. Tidak lama yang lalu dia pindah lagi ke tempat yang sekarang, yang juga merupakan sekamar tripleks, tetapi terletak di dalam sebuah rumah tua. Sebuah rumah sejati.

Bagi saya, ini kemajuan yang nyata, yang sudah lama diharapkan – Ibu Y sudah naik satu jenjang menuju taraf hidup yang lebih baik. Rumah dia sekarang lebih aman, tidak bocor, lebih mudah dibersihkan dibandingkan tanah dan sampah di sekitar tempat tinggal dia yang lama. Rumah ini pun ruangan bebas asap dari pembakaran plastik.

Tetapi makin lama kami ngobrol, makin jelas: tumpangan yang sekarang lumayan sih, tetapi Ibu Y sangat merindukan tempat tinggalnya yang dulu, tidak lama yang lalu, yang atapnya sehelai terpal tipis.

“Di sana orang bisa datang kapan saja, kami bisa berkumpul, kalau ada teman mau nginap, semalam, seminggu, tidak apa-apa. Kami kan saudara, punya tempat masing-masing tapi saling menghargai, memperhatikan. Tapi bebas juga, kalau lo mau begitu, aku mau begini tidak apa-apa, namanya lu lu gue gue, kan?”

“Sekarang mah, orang bikin susah, kalau ada tamu harus lapor, ngak boleh yang banyak, ngak boleh berisik. Kalau ada sampah, orang bilang sama Pak RT, disuruh bersiin. Lebih enak di rel. Kami orang yang… maunya bebas. Setelah digusir sama PTKA, kami bubar, pergi ke mana-mana – seperti burung.”

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